© 2019 Barbara Curtis French.

  • Barb French

Pet peeves of a child-free genealogist

Kids are cute, but I'll take the car. (My grandmother Jean Kenyon Wells and her brother Lewis "Bud" Kenyon)

I like kids. I never wanted to have any of my own, and I am happy with my decision.

While I knew my mother would not like it (I was fifty before she stopped asking me when I was going to give her a red-haired grandchild), I didn't realize how taken aback many genealogists are when they find out I don't have children. So I'll address the most common questions.

"Why do you care about family history if you don't have kids?" As I have said in other posts, I am interested because I am interested. I don't think it is absolutely necessary to have your kids in mind when you pick your hobbies (unless it's something like BASE jumping; definitely don't take your kids BASE jumping).

"Who are you going to pass your work to when you die?" I talk to so many genealogists who have kids who couldn't care less about family history, and they have the same concern as those of us who don't have kids. It's far better not to leave it to someone in the family if you aren't sure they aren't just going to rent one of those Bagsters from Home Depot and send it all on a one-way ticket to the recycler. Digitize your photos and donate the originals to a historical society (and for pity's sake, label them!). Put your research together, self-publish a few copies and send them to a genealogical society or library. Find your own ways to make sure your research isn't lost.

"But you won't be passing on your genes!" No, my exact combination of genes won't be around, but none of my kids would be getting that exact combination either. Each would get half, half of some combination thereof. "My" genes are in a lot of other people. This argument reminds me of the number of people who have told my husband and me that we should have kids because we'd have smart kids who could cure cancer. Smart kids could also be the next supervillains. My kids would probably have avoided PE to write bots to mine Bitcoin (Hmm, maybe I should have had kids).

But none of these questions bug me so much as a frequent topic in the genealogy Facebook groups I belong to:

"Relative X did not have children," or

"Relative X remarried and did not have children with the second wife/husband."

"Should I include them?"

Excuse me??

Does procreative non-participation make that person less a member of the family? Did not having children erase a marriage? Did that person lose their card as a sibling, cousin, aunt, uncle, simply by not having a child?

YES. The answer to whether they should be included is YES. There is more to people than their desire or ability to create offspring, and they deserve their rightful place in your family tree because of it.